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Superman II: 3 Disc Special Edition (DVD)

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B000I8OC6M / The Special Edition of the Superman 2 Richard Donner Cut (3 Disc pack)

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      09.10.2012 14:29
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      A great special pack for film, superhero or superman fans - and anyone else!

      Superman II was one of the first superhero films, starring Christopher Reeve as Superman and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. It follows the first film almost directly. Three Kryptonian supervillians come to earth to conquer it, at the same time Lois begins to suspect her co-worker may be more than he seems.

      When the filming of Superman II went overbudget, Richard Donner was removed as director and Richard Lester brought in to complete the film. He produced the original theatrical version. However, in the early 2000's the original footage Donner shot was rediscovered, and with the help of modern technology a new cut was produced that follows his, very different, plan for the film. This version is called the Donner Cut.

      This special edition pack contains the theatrical Superman II, the remade version by Richard Donner, and an entire DVD full of extras.

      This is a three-disc special edition DVD pack. The discs come in two slimline cases inside a cardboard sleeve. The first case, with red artwork and an image of Superman, contains Discs 1 and 2, which have the original Superman 2 film and the extras respectively. The second case is black with a stylised image of a shirt opening to reveal the superman logo, and holds Disc 3 with the Richard Donner cut. This is an international DVD so the DVD disc labels are in multiple languages, althought the case inserts and sleeve are in english.

      The content has been split this way because each film comes with a commentary track, deleted scenes and theatrical trailers. With over four hours playing time if you include the films and extras, you certainly get your money's from this special pack. Rated PG throughout, it literally has something for everyone, from documentaries to cartoons, as well as the films themselves.

      - The Extras Disc -
      This is probably the disc that will be of most interest to fans, so I will cover it first, although it is listed as disc 2. The two special features, the making of Superman 2 and a 50th aniversary celebration of the character are good. The real prize is the eight Superman cartoons from the 1940's, all remastered in excellent quality. As these were made in 1940s and during world war two there are unsubtle propaganda elements to some of them, and they are clearly a product of their time, but they are still entertaining, well-written and worth viewing both for pleasure and as a historical curiosity.

      - Superman 2: The Original -
      This is the original 122 minute theatrical version of the film as completed by Richard Lester, provided in widescreen and with the soundtrack remastered in Dolby stereo. It is much as it would have looked in cinemas, so I won't go into details. However the disc also contains a commentary by the producers Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler, a deleted scene (with souffle!), and the theatrical trailer.

      - Superman 2: The Donner Cut -
      The Richard Donner cut was produced from found footage - six tons of footage shot for the movie rediscovered in a warehouse. It was restored using modern technology and cut into movie form by Richard Donner following his original plan. The result is a 111 minute completely new Superman film (offered here in Widescreen). This isn't simply a Director's Cut with added footage: the plot, script, characters and even some of the sets are completely changed.

      The Donner Cut reduces the comedy to give time for character building and, despite a few comic moments, is a darker film overall. Marlon Brando appears as Jor-El, and gives the scenes in the fortress of solitude a gravitas that was lacking in the original. His scenes with Christopher Reeves' Superman are outstanding - and the majority are ones that were not in the original film.

      Because it was made from found footage, this is not a polished film, as not all scenes were filmed or rediscovered. Sequences were reconstructed, in one case from a screen test, and there are continuity flaws (e.g. changing hairstyles) because of it. However it is still a good film, and a theatrical release of what was planned would have been incredible.

      It begins with a recap of the first movie, as Donner would have made it. Scenes are shown from different angles and the emphasis is changed. By the time the credits roll, significant differences have already occurred and it is obvious this is not the same film. One major difference, for example, is that in this film there is no eiffel tower sequence and the villains are freed by one of the missiles from the first film. The method by which Lois finds out, and then proves, that Clark is Superman is completely different, and to be honest I prefer this one since Lois comes off as brighter and more tenacious. Despite this it holds together well, and stays more true to Superman mythos than the Lester cut.

      It seems odd to talk about spoiling a twenty year old film, but the ending is almost completely different. Without giving away major details, the time rewind is moved to the end of this film instead of the first one, as Donner always intended it to be, and in some ways it works better here as instead of simply Lois' life (as it was in the first film), the stakes are far higher, and it will have a significant cost to the protagonists.

      The DVD again comes with extras: Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz (the creative consultant) provide a commentary, there is a deleted scene and a featurette about the restoration. The featurette is absolutely fascinating viewing, going into detail about how they recovered, restored and digitised the footage to replace missing or partially shot scenes and complete unfinished effects.

      I would quite happily recommend this DVD set to anyone, but it might be of particular interest to fans of superhero movies or film students, due to the detail given on the restoration work. It is currently available on Amazon for less than £10, and I honestly can't fault this, particularly at that price.


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